(Washington, D.C.) Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies advanced a critical funding bill today with full bipartisan support.
The bill to pay for the national priorities of caring for the nation’s veterans, meeting the construction and housing needs of our servicemen and women, and maintaining the nation’s military cemeteries and battle monuments was passed by the full House Appropriations Committee earlier today.
“The House Appropriations Committee action today continues our longstanding tradition of bipartisan support of our military, our veterans, and their families,” noted Dent. “Our investment of nearly $77 billion for Military Construction and VA, 6 percent over last year’s level, is unprecedented. The legislation honors our strong commitment to our military, our veterans, and their families.”
This legislation funds the benefits and programs that serve over 48 million veterans, family members, and survivors. The bill also provides the necessary funding for housing, training and equipping America’s service members and their families and supports our military’s global readiness and national security priorities.
The bill sets discretionary spending at $76.6 billion, a $4.6 billion increase over the level for Fiscal Year 2015.
$7.7 billion will be spent for military construction projects – an increase of $904 million above the enacted fiscal year 2015 level. Importantly, the bill provides $1.4 billion to construct, maintain and operate military housing for nearly 1.4 million military families.
Spending for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was increased by 5.6% over last year’s levels. Total discretionary funding for the veteran programs in the bill totals $68.7 billion, which is $3.6 billion above Fiscal Year 2015. $48.6 billion is dedicated to providing for the health care of approximately 6.9 million patients expected to be treated in fiscal year 2016.
The bill also increases funding for the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) and implements further actions within the VA designed to address the need for greater oversight and investigation into the instances of wait time manipulation and other schemes that have resulted in poor service to the nation’s veterans. “The recent VA OIG report detailing the numerous ways the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Region Office horrendously failed our region’s veterans provided yet another unfortunate example of the need for increased oversight and administrative reforms,” Representative Dent observed. “This bill provides for more robust oversight to ensure that the VA identifies and corrects issues as quickly as possible.”
Dent appreciated the outstanding work put in by all members of the MilCon-VA Subcommittee and the staff. “This bill could not have come about without the outstanding bipartisan work and input contributed by the members of the subcommittee and diligent staff work,” Dent offered. “I want to thank Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-2), the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee for his kind words and guidance during my first experience with the Committee as both a member and as Chairman during the process. It’s an honor to serve with him.”
The bill is expected to be brought up for consideration by the full House of Representatives next week.
For a bill summary, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394141
CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490